An Indianapolis woman is facing a murder charge in court today after allegedly killing her boyfriend with her car outside of a pub after midnight on Friday. According to a witness who spoke to police, the defendant accused the victim of cheating and claimed she used an Apple AirTag to track him to his location.
The witness told police that the suspect, 26-year-old Gaylyn Morris, entered the pub around midnight and began threatening to “beat” another woman in the victim’s company. After being ejected from the pub, Morris allegedly struck the victim with her car in the parking lot multiple times, including backing over his body. Andre Smith was pronounced dead at the scene.
An Indianapolis police officer told the court Friday that Morris, after being arrested at the scene, admitted to striking Smith with her car under questioning. The car is registered in Morris’ name, he said. The defendant could not be reached for comment.
Apple launched the AirTag in April of last year, marketing the $US30 ($42), coin-sized device as a convenient way to locate lost items: purses, wallets, and keys, even children and pets. Security experts, however, immediately warned of the potential for abuse by violent partners.
Some women report AirTags being dropped into their pockets in bars. A year after launch, Vice obtained records from eight police departments describing 50 cases in which women reported being tracked by AirTags they didn’t own. A majority of incidents involved angry exes, the site said. Multiple victims informed police that they feared a violent outcome.
On Monday, Apple unveiled a new iPhone feature dubbed Safety Check that was designed, it said, with victims of abusive partners in mind.
Safety Check will allow iPhone owners to reset their privacy settings more quickly and halt the sharing of location data via the Find My app with unwanted parties. The feature will also restrict access to native apps like FaceTime and iMessage and audit the sharing permissions of others.
“[Safety Check] lets people in abusive situations quickly revoke an abuser’s access to their data and location, enabling them to cut ties and get to safety,” said Katie Skinner, a privacy engineering manager at Apple.
Apple did not respond to a request for comment. The company claims incidents of misuse are “rare” and had said it cooperates with law enforcement on “all” AirTag-related requests.
Apple sought to deflect blame away from AirTags earlier this year, saying that unwanted tracking had “long been a society problem.” Many consumers had found the device useful, the company said: “Thanks to AirTag and the Find My app, a customer who lost his wallet on the subway was able to track it down at a station across town.”
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, roughly 10 million women and men in the U.S. experience abuse by intimate partner each year.
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1800RESPECT or 1800 737 732 or visit White Ribbon Australia.